I have definitely not eaten what my body truly has wanted for a good portion of my life. I am a Velveeta and meatloaf survivor, proving that you can eat crap and live to tell about it. But then, you’re going to have to admit to yourself a couple of things.
First, you have to admit that you’ve never thought about why you eat what you eat. For 90% of people out there, this is just a fact. For most people in the world, they eat for survival based on what’s available. In Western culture, we don’t have that issue. We can eat whatever we want. We have something called “choice.” Even most really poor people in the U.S. have a pretty broad array of choices in what they can eat.
Secondly, you have to admit to yourself that you’re going to have to change. It’s inevitable. People say that taste buds change every seven years, so if there are some foods that didn’t taste good before, then now is the time to encourage those taste buds to change. It’s going to happen anyway. Most people have done this before. Just about everyone I know hates beer when they first taste it. I know I did. But because of stupid cultural pressures and expectations, many of us kept downing beers until it started to taste good. So you already know how to do this, and you won’t die if you try. Although in general, you don’t have to worry about loading up on tons of foods you don’t like at first, but a change in diet will be jarring to you, depending on your starting point.
Thirdly, you’re going to have to start listening to your body. Your body already knows what it wants to eat. It is an incredibly intelligent entity. Part of the embodied spiritual awakening is coming into the many intelligences of your energy system. You are built up of body intelligence, heart intelligence, mind intelligence, and soul intelligence (which pulls the other three into alignment). Learning to trust your body is a huge step into discovering what nutrition and eating is right for you.
Developing Body Intelligence: Getting the Mind and Ego Out of the Way
First off, you’ve got to get your ego and mind out of the way. Hopefully, if you’ve been reading this string of blog posts you know that the mind and ego are different. The ego is a collected set of specific experiences and traits that has been pulled together. You may think that is who you are. And because the mind is so heavily emphasized in Western culture, the mind is wrapped up in the ego package deal. Well, the ego is only one lens on the experiences that you’ve had in life, and the narrative its trying to tell may have nothing to do with your body.
Let’s break this down a little. Say you’re really into weight-lifting. You’ve cultivated a look, a set of friends, and a set of habits all around weight-lifting. You’re known as a weight-lifter. Your body doesn’t naturally like this though. And it may not like this weight-lifting one bit. All the additional protein supplements and cretin make your body feel awful. But you think this is about being committed, tough, and focused. This is all part of your ego’s narrative. So, to come into your body intelligence will mean letting go of a lot of these practices. If something makes you feel really bad, your body is telling you that it doesn’t like this. While I could get into what this means on the exercise level, I’ll stick to food. Your body knows what it needs, so you may soon find yourself dropping out the supplements. You may lose physical mass, and at this point, you may start to see why the spiritual awakening path is so dramatic. And why so many people don’t want to do it. Because I’m sure your ego hasn’t let go of the identity of the body-builder, but to go down this road, it’ll have to. You’re going to have sacrifice ego ideas of strength and beauty before you can come into true strength and beauty.
Oh, But I’m Feeling So Much Better Now
It’s amazing what coming into your body intelligence will do for you. You really will feel so much better. When you try to go back to old eating habits that didn’t serve you, you’ll start to notice big differences. I tried eating some roast beef for x-mas, and I felt terrible. It’s too dense for me. It felt like it was a rock sitting at the bottom of my stomach, and it’s not what my body tells me it needs. I give myself room to experiment (which I think is important for everyone to figure things out), but my body is pretty consistent about certain things like red meats and alcohol. If I want to shut me down, I can drink a beer and have a steak. It won’t be a pretty sight.
And of course, why in the world would I do this? Because I’ve seen so much general improvement in how my body feels by aligning to its intelligence, I see no reason to eat any other way. You may find old ideas around “politeness” and eating what’s given to you may show up in some scenarios with friends and family. But making yourself suffer to serve the limited egos who feel rejection issues around if someone likes their food or not isn’t worth it. There’s been enough suffering in the world and in you, hasn’t there?
But that’s your choice of course. Just like what you eat is your choice. You can choose to come back to your body’s intelligence, or you can go forward eating the same things that have made you feel sick, lethargic, drained, disoriented, and all other assortments of bad feelings. I personally choose to eat what makes me feel good. It starts by noticing how your body feels after eating. Then you experiment with what foods to eat, and then your body can start to transform.